Maiden voyage

From Reading and Vilamoura, James Boyd brings news of Tracy Edwards' giant cat
Tracy Edward's Maiden II team are due to set off on their first record attempt as tomorrow (11 April) aboard the former Club Med maxi-catamaran, but Edwards has told madforsailing that she will not be going with them. "I'd love to go, but they are more than capable of doing this without me and I can't carry out sponsorship negotiations while I am on board," said the former Maiden skipper. Since the launch of the project in London, the crew have been assembling in La Ciotat, the giant shipyard in the south of France, where Club Med has been laid up since taking part in The Race. Despite the damage which Club Med suffered during The Race, Helena Darvelid, who is currently running the crew in Edwards' absence, says there was very little to do to prepare the boat. "It is very nicely repaired. You can't even tell where the damage was. She was pretty much ready to go". As an added bonus she says is that all the systems on the 110ft cat, including the rig, are very simple (albeit quite big). "Everything is very cleverly designed. There are not a lot of technical things to take care of". Maiden II is now resplendent in her new waiting-to-get-sponsorship paintjob retaining the Club Med mermaid on each bow and is currently in Vilamoura in southern Portugal where she was delivered over the weekend - the maiden voyage for Edward's new team. Darvelid says that the trip from La Ciotat down to Vilamoura via the Straits of Gibraltar was quite a shake-down cruise. They left on Thursday and sailed down the east coast of Spain crashing into 45 knot headwinds. "The waves we had in the Med were pretty steep and 45 knots is a lot of wind," she says.